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WNY Poker Challenge Main Event Day 1: Jerry Calvaneso Holds Massive Lead; 34 Remain

Jerry Calvaneso

The 2014 Western New York Poker Challenge continued Saturday with the start of the $1,100 Main Event on the balcony of the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, New York. The flagship event of the series smashed the $100,000 guaranteed prize pool as the 183 entries created a prize pool of $176,595.

Jerry Calvaneso will lead the 34 survivors into Day 2, all of whom will be eyeing the trophy and the $45,915 top prize. Calvaneso bagged 398,800, nearly double the amount of his next closest competitor.

Calvaneso told us that he played a satellite to the Main Event with the intention of selling it if he won. However, when he found out that he couldn't sell it, he attempted to negotiate a deal to get cash instead of the seat. He ended up winning the seat after another satellite player rejected his offer, and now he could parlay his satellite success into a much bigger payday on Sunday.

WNY Poker Challenge Main Event Top 10 Stacks

1Jerry Calvaneso398,800
2Pete Kaemmerlen239,100
3Bob De Wolfe226,800
4Mike Shavensky223,700
5Joe Cruz217,400
6Leon Halat213,100
7Ray Snell208,200
8John Aga193,000
9Eric Tumbioro191,600
10Joseph Elia165,900

Registration and re-entries were available during the first four levels of the Main Event on Saturday, and most of the 183 entries came from single bullets. However, Rick Block fired three times before being eliminated early in the day. In his final entry, Block picked up aces against the pocket queens of Geoff McLeery, but McLeery drilled a queen to send Block home empty-handed.

The red-hot Andy Spears, fresh off his victory in Event #12 the night before, was also unable to advance to Day 2. Spears, who won two Main Events at the Seneca Niagara Falls Casino & Hotel in the past nine months, was eliminated during Level 10 on Saturday. Pete Kaemmerlen opened to 3,100 from under the gun and action folded around to Spears in the big blind. He shoved for around 17,000, and Kaemmerlen called.

Spears: {8-Hearts}{8-}
Kaemmerlen: {A-}{10-}

Spears increased his lead to 77% when the {K-Hearts}{J-Hearts}{3-Hearts} flop added a flush draw to his hand, and it looked like he'd survive when the {7-Clubs} hit the turn. But the {Q-Spades} on the river improved Kaemmerlen to Broadway, sending Spears out the door.

Other notables joining Spears and Block on the rail on Day 1 were Jason Nablo, Randy Pfeifer, Alex Rivera, Ryan Rivers, and WSOP bracelet winner Greg Ostrander.

Several familiar faces managed to evade elimination on Day 1, including Johannes Mueller, Blake Napierala, Joseph Elia and the defending that of this event, Matthew Sande. Mueller, one of our Players to Watch entering the series, picked up most of his chips during a massive confrontation against Scott Gaddi after the dinner break.

According to Mueller, he called a four-bet preflop against Scott Gaddi to see a flop of {K-Clubs}{K-Hearts}{4-Clubs}. Gaddi bet 25,000, Mueller shipped it all in for around 60,000 effective, and Gaddi called.

Mueller: {A-Clubs}{6-Clubs}
Gaddi: {J-Clubs}{J-Hearts}

Gaddi called the shove ahead, and he improved further on the {8-Spades} turn. But Mueller hit gin when the dealer rolled over the {9-Clubs} on the river, giving Mueller a massive pot and sending Gaddi out the door.

The action will resume at noon ET on Sunday and won't end until a champion is crowned. Will Calvaneso continue steamrolling the field, or will Matthew Sande make another run at the title? Stay tuned to the PokerNews Live Reporting page to find out!

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